PUSHING THE DIALING ENVELOPE
By Joe Desposito
Predictive dialers work. Companies routinely realize productivity gains of 100% and higher in their outbound telemarketing campaigns. Here's a look at the best open-architecture systems in computer telephony.
The Open Architecture Predictive Dialing Engine (OAPDE) from Calltrol (Hawthorne, NY - 914-747-8500) really is an "open" system.
OAPDE can be added to an existing computing platform and integrated with existing applications used by call-center agents. The engine is for VARs and technologically savvy call-center people who do their own database work. Calltrol's policy is to encourage development and not market turnkey systems themselves.
VARs developing a predictive dialing app using OAPDE would start off buying Calltrol's Developer's Kit ($299). It lets you modify an existing application while it runs in a simulated environment. This insures compatibility of the modified program with the full OAPDE program prior to purchase. Later, a VAR can buy a runtime version of the system, depending on size and options.
Calltrol sells the hardware too. It's an industrial PC call-processing platform containing Dialogic SCSA cards. All the hardware and software they sell is priced out on a line-by-line basis.
The platform either includes or supports through the client software just about, every popular predictive dialer feature.
To install, you pop in a network card and drivers into a PC to suit your environment. The engine comes ready to plug into either T-l or loop start phone lines and loop start analog extensions.
VARs need to supply their own multi-user environment (a network or dumb terminals with a host). This includes any hardware required for a data processing application, such as servers, printers, workstations or other peripherals. The dialing engine accepts single-line compatible devices at the agent stations. Headsets in lieu of standard phones are an option.
A VAR working with Calltrol's software and / or hardware also needs the programming tools for their database environment of choice (FoxPro, Visual Basic, Power Builder, C) and to design whatever special features the application should have.
Calltrol provides sample code and some utilities to get you going in various environments. Regardless of the language your app was written in, the ability to access NetBios or TCP/IP from your app is what makes it compatible with a Calltrol system.
Calltrol's new platform, Object Telephony Software (OTS), adds inbound (ACD), voice processing (for messaging and IVR) and enhanced predictive dialing in one integrated system. The OAPDE/OTS platform was conceived as a building block component of complete call-center solutions. Calltrol has taken the Dialogic hardware platform, added value to it, and packaged it for the next level beyond VARs - user application development.
System cost varies on the components needed for a particular system and system size. Typical cost for a complete "engine" (PC switching platform and software license) averages $1,000 to $2,000 per user. Average cost per user decreases as system size increases.
Obtained with permission from Computer Telephony Magazine, Originally Published November, 1996